Priorities for the African continent: energy, industrialization, integration and job creation
Speaking during a press conference immediately following the opening ceremony of the 10th African Economic Conference on Monday, November 2 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, the country's Prime Minister, Augustin Matata Ponyo, underscored that the economies of the region have improved. But much more is needed for renewed optimism in Africa, he said.
The Prime Minister addressed local, regional and international media alongside African Development Bank Vice-President and Chief Economist Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa; Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); and Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa at the United Nations Development Programme, the three partners institutions that co-organize the conference each year.
Several issues emerged from the press conference, but the resounding consensus was that strategies for poverty reduction and inequality must be redirected, with a focus on energy, industrialization, integration and job creation.
"If Africa is to transform, we need reforms to take advantage of opportunities lying in external factors, with emphasis on human capital and industrialization," said Lopes.
"In September, global leaders gathered in New York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals," said AfDB's Kayizzi-Mugerwa. "Back home in Africa, the lack of adequate infrastructure, particularly energy, is a major constraint. It has been estimated that electricity supply for the Africa as a whole is equivalent to that of Belgium, a country with a population of only 11 million compared to Africa's over 1 billion."
For this reason, the AfDB is making energy central to its development strategy, Kayizzi-Mugerwa said.
For his part, UNDP Regional Director Abdoulaye Mar Dieye stressed the need for domestic resource mobilization, which he described as a valuable source of funding for projects aimed to reduce poverty and inequality.
In its 10 years of existence, the African Economic Conference has proven to be a valuable forum for the exchange of ideas on development issues facing the continent, Augustin Matata Ponyo said. In closing, he challenged the conference participants to reflect on appropriate responses to poverty reduction and inequality that are making Africa fall behind.